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Old 08-26-2020, 10:15 PM   #1
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THOR #3975
Smelly hot water - Atwood heater - no anode...

We have had our Thor Siesta about 3 years - and as far as I know, no one had ever done any maint on the water heater. My lack of training. Maybe the service dept at the place I bought it, and take it, did some - I would have to find copies of the work orders to know for sure. We did get the pressure release valve replaced when we were on a trip and it started to leak...

Anyway - about 3 months ago, we noticed really smelly hot water. Took it in for service. All seemed OK after doing whatever they did. A short trip 3 weeks later - no problems. Six weeks later, we were camping and had the same smell again. I did some research - learned about anodes, and figured I needed a new one - and wondered what the service guys had done in their last repair. While waiting for my NEXT service appointment, I did more research - decided to try replacing the anode my self - learned my heater (an Atwood) HAS NO ANODE - at least, not the rod - the aluminum tank is the anode... and that assume I am looking at the RIGHT Atwood.

Today I decided to open it up and see what was going on. I unscrewed the drain plug - and, attached to it was an anode! Partly corroded! (See picture) I flushed the tank - lots of crud came out. Did the repair guys flush the tank? Who knows...

So - I could use some advice on what to do now. Did the "repair" do any damage when they placed an anode in a heater that doesn't use one? Should I replace the tank because - I don't know - the tank is corroded? Where do I go from here, besides (not) trusting the service people where I bought it?

Dan
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Old 08-26-2020, 10:49 PM   #2
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That is what anode rods do: they corrode to keep the rest of the tank from doing the same.

You are probably ok, flush the tank a few times and replace the plug with a proper plug.

What kind of smelly? A sulfur type of smelly? We've found that the water heater will start to smell based on the water that is put through it (e.g. if a campground is using well water vs a city water system). Typically if its a sulfur smell a good flushing will get that out.
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Old 08-26-2020, 10:55 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by JamieGeek View Post
That is what anode rods do: they corrode to keep the rest of the tank from doing the same.

You are probably ok, flush the tank a few times and replace the plug with a proper plug.

What kind of smelly? A sulfur type of smelly? We've found that the water heater will start to smell based on the water that is put through it (e.g. if a campground is using well water vs a city water system). Typically if its a sulfur smell a good flushing will get that out.
Thanks for the reply. A couple of clarifications:

- when you say "replace the plug with a proper plug" - do you mean just a cap, without an anode?
- and it sounds like you are saying the smell is really separate from the corrosion? Somehow they got linked in my mind... but maybe that's wrong?

Thanks
Dan
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Old 08-26-2020, 10:58 PM   #4
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Service people were idiots. Atwood needs no anode. You are probably ok and good to go. Drain and flush out the water. No need to worry. Oh, and get the proper drain plug, not a Home Depot special.
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Old 08-26-2020, 11:21 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by lspotho View Post
Thanks for the reply. A couple of clarifications:

- when you say "replace the plug with a proper plug" - do you mean just a cap, without an anode?
- and it sounds like you are saying the smell is really separate from the corrosion? Somehow they got linked in my mind... but maybe that's wrong?

Thanks
Dan
On our water heater the plug is a nylon plastic plug (Amazon).

Yes the smell is separate from the corrosion.
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Old 08-26-2020, 11:32 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by JamieGeek View Post
That is what anode rods do: they corrode to keep the rest of the tank from doing the same.

You are probably ok, flush the tank a few times and replace the plug with a proper plug.

What kind of smelly? A sulfur type of smelly? We've found that the water heater will start to smell based on the water that is put through it (e.g. if a campground is using well water vs a city water system). Typically if its a sulfur smell a good flushing will get that out.
An easy fix for the "rotten egg" smell is to pull the plug/rod and carefully pour (use a small funnel) a small amount of bleach in the tank. Put the plug in, fill the tank then drain.
It want hurt anything if you run a small amount of hot water thru all the hot faucets/shower before you drain.
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Old 08-27-2020, 01:49 PM   #7
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I had the same problem on my atwood HWH. I pulled the plug, removed the pressure release valve at the top, and drained the tank. I reinstalled the drain plug and added a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar to the tank. Left it for an hour, drained again, reinstalled the pressure valve and the drain plug. It was not difficult and fixed the problem. No odor a year later. I think I had a bunch of crud in the tank.
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Old 08-27-2020, 02:35 PM   #8
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sulfate reducing bacteria, iron, and sulfur are present in many water supplies and usually aren't treated

avoid those waters when possible

that is typically the reason for smelly hot water
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Old 08-27-2020, 04:46 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by lwmcguire View Post
sulfate reducing bacteria, iron, and sulfur are present in many water supplies and usually aren't treated

avoid those waters when possible

that is typically the reason for smelly hot water
Especially near the Coast. I have started draining the water system after each trip (even though I use the onboard tank most of the time and refill it when necessary).
I found after a trip if water sit on the coach for two weeks or more the hot South Texas the water really stinks. A couple days before we leave I move the coach to community's hose bib hook-up the water softener and fill the tanks and water heater with softened Edwards Aquifer water.
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Old 08-27-2020, 05:14 PM   #10
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Thanks, everyone - I have a much better understanding of the problem now. And I watched enough YouTube videos to feel comfortable actually doing it. We are heading out to our daughter's home in Texas shortly, and I think we will survive!

Dan
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Old 09-17-2020, 06:39 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by JamieGeek View Post
On our water heater the plug is a nylon plastic plug (Amazon).

Yes the smell is separate from the corrosion.
Jamie, since you have graduated to "AXIS/VEGAS enthusiast" I will trust your answer... I had read that you should replace the ANODE rod every four to five years. And, like everyone else, found that the ATWOOD 6 GALLON, equipped on the VEGAS/AXIS, doesn't have one from the factory. Since our 2016 is nearing the four-five year period, would it do any good to install an ANODE, or just keep using the nylon plugs? Not everything that comes from THOR is equipped in the RV OWNER'S best interest..
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Old 09-17-2020, 06:52 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Mo_Mike View Post
Jamie, since you have graduated to "AXIS/VEGAS enthusiast" I will trust your answer... I had read that you should replace the ANODE rod every four to five years. And, like everyone else, found that the ATWOOD 6 GALLON, equipped on the VEGAS/AXIS, doesn't have one from the factory. Since our 2016 is nearing the four-five year period, would it do any good to install an ANODE, or just keep using the nylon plugs? Not everything that comes from THOR is equipped in the RV OWNER'S best interest..
I haven't done anything with our water heater (now that its six years old). I replace the nylon plug about every other season simply because it gets beat up or I lose it LOL. Flush it when necessary, thats about it.
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Old 09-17-2020, 07:06 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Mo_Mike View Post
Jamie, since you have graduated to "AXIS/VEGAS enthusiast" I will trust your answer... I had read that you should replace the ANODE rod every four to five years. And, like everyone else, found that the ATWOOD 6 GALLON, equipped on the VEGAS/AXIS, doesn't have one from the factory. Since our 2016 is nearing the four-five year period, would it do any good to install an ANODE, or just keep using the nylon plugs? Not everything that comes from THOR is equipped in the RV OWNER'S best interest..
Different tanks need different things. Surburban RV tank type water heaters (owned by Airxcel) have a glass lined steel tank. They use a sacrificial anode to prevent the tank from rusting out just like your home's water heater. You are correct that they should be replaced regularly and checked at least yearly.
Bowen designed the aluminum tank rapid heat RV water heater in 1955. Atwood bought Bowen in 1964. My first class A MH had a Bowen gas water heater. Atwood was bought by Dometic in 2014. Having al all aluminum tank and burner pipe the Atwood water heater will not rust. It can corrode if the aluminum comes in contact with a dissimilar metal like a brass pipe plug used instead of the recommended plastic pipe plug.
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Old 09-17-2020, 07:14 PM   #14
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Different tanks need different things. Surburban RV tank type water heaters (owned by Airxcel) have a glass lined steel tank. They use a sacrificial anode to prevent the tank from rusting out just like your home's water heater. You are correct that they should be replaced regularly and checked at least yearly.
Bowen designed the aluminum tank rapid heat RV water heater in 1955. Atwood bought Bowen in 1964. My first class A MH had a Bowen gas water heater. Atwood was bought by Dometic in 2014. Having al all aluminum tank and burner pipe the Atwood water heater will not rust. It can corrode if the aluminum comes in contact with a dissimilar metal like a brass pipe plug used instead of the recommended plastic pipe plug.
THANKS for the information! I was wondering why the nylon plug was installed from the factory, and now you have answered that question. As I said in the original post, THOR doesnt always equip fixtures with the "best" options for the RV owner...
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Old 09-17-2020, 10:12 PM   #15
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It is all based upon the metal nobility charts

Sacrificial anodes are just that

Aluminum doesn't corrode in water until the pH is well above drinking water standards

Electrons are going to flow from the less Nobel metal

So stay with the plastic plug as noted
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Old 09-17-2020, 10:34 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by lwmcguire View Post
It is all based upon the metal nobility charts

Sacrificial anodes are just that

Aluminum doesn't corrode in water until the pH is well above drinking water standards

Electrons are going to flow from the less Nobel metal

So stay with the plastic plug as noted
Thank you! Guess there is a lot of knowledge on US 65 (north and south)
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